Quarterbacking

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Game design issue that occurs in cooperative board games when all decisions are taken by one player that is more skilled in the game than others.

Sometimes it's just a problem of one player that is not socially subtle enough… But often, when everybody is motivated to win the game, they all do care about the best strategy and then a cooperative game doesn't go well with a difference of skill. Everyone wants to take the best strategy, but has less fun when decisions are taken for them. This is less of a problem in computer games where often having a skilled leader who calls the shots is a positive. (In casual games a dispute may happen on who this leader will be, but that's a different problem).

The reason for that difference between game types is that with board games the decisions are at the core of gameplay and might be the only part that is fun. In computer games there is usually more to do: you have your own smaller decisions in real time and frequent dexterity testing. These features are tried out in board game design to answer the leader/quarterbacking problem. Another common attempt is to put constraints on communication or discouraging from it (by additional non-cooperative goals).

Interestingly both of the above "precautions" tend to occur naturally in music games: there's music to play, and it's hard to communicate then. But when game is structured with untimed phases of free communication, this design issue needs to be taken into consideration.

Other game design terms:


Mark for clarification

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